Journal: Sunday, June 16, 2024

In Personal

Last Saturday, I took 21 hours to run/hike 115km (71.5mi) of distance and 5294m (17369ft) of climbing.

Because few fellow runners spoke (or wanted to speak) English (and I unfortunately can’t speak French), I spent most of that time in my head.

During that time, I was reminded very much of what many friends have said about the 100-mile distance: that it’s a lifetime in a day.

I have yet to make the leap to that 100-mile distance. But I certainly got a taste.

That taste included that elusive feeling of awe and wonder, that I crave and constantly seek, that that which often only comes with the unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

It included an intense feeling of gratitude: that I have the privilege and opportunity to be out here (Switzerland of all places!); that I’m fit and injury-free (which I can never take for granted); that I can enjoy the freedom of exploring just how deep my limits are.

I’m often asked what I think about when I run.

The answer ranges. It ranges from the practical (where do I go next? how long until the next support stop?) to the philosophical (where am I going in life? how much longer can I do this for? do I want to keep doing this?).

Because I’m writing this a week after the race, memories of these thoughts have already begun to fade. But key themes remain. They include:

  1. Community and relationships. My attachment styles. Depression and therapy.
  2. Who I am, what I want from life, and how I want to spend the rest of my life.
  3. Memories from the past. Times and places I miss. People I miss.
  4. And, memories of the future. Times and places where I’m going. People I’ll spend more time with. People I haven’t met yet.

Each one of these deserves an longform essay.

But the fact that these dominated my thoughts mean that perhaps it’s time to return to an exploration phase of life again: where I focus my energies on new hobbies, meeting new people, and re-imagining what life could look like. Something I really last did, to major effect, in 2017, and again, less dramatically, in 2019 and 2021.

One key worry each time, though, is how to best balance those phases with the person that I am at the time. Doing something new, and meeting new people, necessarily means that I do less of something, and spending time with friends, I already love.

I also worry that as I get older, it becomes both harder to become attached to new passions yet harder to let go of existing attachments and stability. It’s a shadow in the back of my mind. A fear that one day I’ll be a less adventurous person. A fear of becoming someone less capable of accepting, understanding, and managing risk and change.


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